Page images
PDF
EPUB

172

Employment of Evangelists.

from such examples believes that they all hold their principles in the market, and are ready to sell to such as will give them the best

pay and the most comfort. The injury thus done to the ministry outbalances, as I believe, all the good which such men can perform. The churches and ministers participating in such transactions are weakening the power of the Church over the public confidence more than the efforts of its stron gest enemies.

The employment of evangelists to assist the regular preacher in his labours requires great caution. Evangelists are frequently of great service. They are able to say with boldness what the minister would utter with more delicacy. But the pastor should never give the control of the meetings to any evangelist or to any assisting preacher. If he does not hold the control over his meetings, the interest will cease when the evangelist goes away.' Persons who are drilled and exercised under a foreign influence will not be fused into the methods of the congregation. They will be comparing the methods of the evangelist with the methods of the pastor, and will complain of the latter if the interest does not continue. I have known a number of places where the visits of evangelists have resulted in an apparent awakening and conversion of great numbers; and yet in three or four months the church has been in a worse condition than it was before the visit of the evangelist-contention and strife having been substituted for peace and harmonyand the benefits of the revival have been lost. Better have no evangelist, however exciting—no brother preacher, however talented—who will not kindly co-operate with you and move in harmony with your plans. Usually, however, the minister will need help in his protracted or special evangelistic efforts. His chief aim should be to make his services so attractive, so spiritual, and so earnest that the Lord shall add daily to the church such as shall be saved. Yet, under special circumstances, he will find that such a general seriousness pervades his audience, such a deep impression is made, as will not only justify, but imperiously demand, the establishment of special services. At such seasons, hearts bow more easily, and multitudes crowd to the services to see and hear, because their friends or acquaint

Intercourse with Church Officers.

173

ances are deeply interested. Let the minister then get the utmost help he possibly can from his own membership, for the work will do them good; but let him also procure

additional aid, either from neighbouring pastors or from evangelists, as he may deem best-ever, however, maintaining the management and control of the services.

There are matters which are not strictly ministerial, but which yet devolve, in many places, upon the preacher. A new church edifice is needed; but it will not be erected unless the minister procure subscriptions. He will sometimes find a congregation severely embarrassed with a debt, which disorders the people and hinders spiritual work; and he will find it necessary to devote much of his time to securing means to liquidate the debt. These things ought not so to be.After the apostolic example, the churches should select men to attend to all financial matters, that the minister may give himself wholly to the Word of God and to prayer. Yet in many sections of the country, especially in new organizations, very little can be done without the active co-operation of the minister. In these enterprizes he needs great caution and energy. As a leader, he must inspire those with whom he comes in contact, that by his personal influence he may interest his congregation to a proper emulation in raising the very necessary means. At the same time, he must remember that these matters are secondary; that, though he may find it necessary to work on the scaffolding, it is only that he may more successfully build materials into the great spiritual temple.

He will also need great wisdom and tact in his intercourse with his church officers, whether they be called deacons, vestrymen, trustees, or elders. They are the assistants of the pastor in the various departments of church enterprise. They are generally devout and thoughtful men, yet not unfrequently they have marked peculiarities or eccentricities. They had the control of the church before the present minister came; they expect to hold it should he retire. There are a few ministers who have such power over their congregations that they rule and control their church officers with a rod of iron; but there are few such men.

[blocks in formation]

Where ministers have built up churches by their own ability or genius, they may have supreme control; but the ordinary minister can only succeed by kind and careful co-operation with these various officers. Occasionally some of them are so peculiar and obstinate that it is dangerous to antagonize them. I heard Mr. Spurgeon once remark that the difference between deacons and the Devil was, that “if you resist the Devil, he will flee from you. But,” said he,“ resist the deacons, and they will fly at you."

The Church has laid upon it, by its great Head, the duty of evangelizing the world. Each congregation should do something for this cause, and the minister should be deeply interested in this work. A part of this work will be performed in his own locality, by establishing cottage prayer meetings, mission schools, and occasional preaching services. But the work of Christ requires not only preaching, but sending out others to preach. The Church should plead with its Lord and Master to "send out labourers into the harvest," and should endeavour to aid those so thrust out. The minister should so preach to himself and to his congregation that both he and they, according to their means, shall be liberal contributors to this great work. For this purpose he should be well acquainted, first, with the missionary movements of his own denomination, the fields which they occupy, and the special objects to which the funds collected will be in great measure applied ; but for the sake of inspiring his congregation with broader views and greater confidence in the approaching triumphs of the Gospel, he should be also acquainted with the work of all the churches, and be able to present such a connected view of the whole missionary field as shall give confidence of ultimate success, and inspire his people to become active co-workers with Christ. I believe the missionary cause more than any other meets and subjugates the selfish feelings of men. To it we owe the large contribations made to-day to the erection of churches and the endowment of literary institutions. It is true these are not missionary in their character; but the missionary idea, in its immense grandeur, so fills the heart and enlarges its sympathy, and so

The Wisdom of Unselfishness.

175

counteracts the selfishness of every bosom, that it leads to grand and noble giving. In almost erery instance the liberal benefactors of institutions have had their hearts touched or opened by this missionary spirit. Other benevolent efforts will demand the minister's attention, and to these let him ever give due consideration, without fearing lest his own support may be endangered.

The minister who most fully identifies himself with every good cause, and who most fully performs all the work properly devolving upon him, will not only maintain a conscience “ void of offence toward God and toward man,” but will also best secure the favour of the congregation and the approbation of the public. Such a man magnifies his ministry, blesses his age, and honours God.

x

IS THE MODERN PULPIT A FAILURE ?

It has become fashionable in certain circles to speak of the failure of the pulpit. It is represented as belonging chiefly to a past age, and that its power over the minds of men is passing away. Some of the writers for the daily press and some of the contributors to the literary reviews claim for themselves the distinguishing honour of controlling the public mind. They speak of the power of the press, the number of readers whom they reach by their pens, and the immense influence which they exert in public affairs. In their glorification of the press they look upon the pulpit as a diminishing quantity, as an agency once potent, but which is now almost superseded. A few scientists, also, men of intellectual power and extensive learning, but of sceptical views, have wrought themselves into the belief that their discoveries in science have invalidated the authority of the Holy Scriptures. They assail the pulpit not so much on account of the character of its agency, as because they fancy the

matter of preaching has become quite obsolete. They extol the · triumphs of science, and call in question the very possibility of

a revelation from God, and occasionally the very existence of the Divine Being

I do not desire to underrate the value of the press. It is one of the most powerful agencies, as it is also the offspring, of a Christian civilization. It has its place—a conspicuous placein diffusing intelligence and in guiding the movements of society. There should be no rivalry-much less should there be enmitybetween the press and the pulpit. Each has its proper sphere,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »